- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Established Relationship
Professor Charles Xavier sat in his office at the School for Gifted Youngers, staring out at the grounds and fighting the urge to order the jet prepped immediately.
Charles had had many students over the years, both as Guide and leader of the mutant movement, and loved them all dearly. But Tony Stark held a special place in his heart and had ever since he’d first seen the boy.
Tony had been seven when he’d first been identified, and Charles had been there when he arrived. When [the pair] meeting Howard Stark had identified him, they’d reached out to the Keep immediately. And the Keep had reached out to Charles. Because while meeting young people who would eventually become guides was common, meeting those who were already online was not.
There were exceptions, of course. Trauma had a tendency to bring out sentinels, and guides nearly always came online shortly after their sentinel did, no matter the distance separating them. Times of war, global conflict, and disaster all skewed the averages. Charles himself had no idea when his powers had first emerged, finding it impossible to separate his mutation from his guide gifts.
But six was a record and a horrifying one. So as the expert, he’d been called in.
The moment he’d set eyes on Tony, something in him had shifted and called out, and almost without thought his spirit animal had appeared, the barn owl launching off his shoulder with a screech and swooping around the small boy before landing on his outstretched arm and preening his hair. Tony giggled, but the behavior didn’t seem to phase him at all as he stared at the Barn Owl in awe.
From that moment on, Charles had known the truth. Tony Stark was not only a very young, online guide. He was Charles’ successor. And for all that he’d been a teacher of young, disenfranchised children for over a decade now, a shelter to young mutants, sentinels, and guides, this time was different. They were all his pride, all in his care. He would defend any and all of them with whatever he had. But Tony was *his*, the child of his spirit. Charles didn’t think the boy could have been any more his own if he had been his own flesh and blood.
He’d immediately set about rearranging his schedule so that he was available to offer Tony one-on-one instruction until such a time as Howard Stark could be persuaded to allow Tony to stay at the mansion.
For the public, Charles pretended that it was because of Tony’s unique situation. Most Sentinels and Guides didn’t come online until their early twenties. The earliest on record before Tony had been an eleven-year-old Sentinel who had come online when someone had tried to rob his house. Tony had broken the record by five years.
He still remembered the first time they’d discussed Tony’s future role in the pride, and it was a memory that broke his heart to this day.
“Erik and I aren’t going to be here forever, Tony,” Charles had told him gently. “One day, someone will need to step up and take our places. And it would make me very happy if one day those people were you and your Sentinel.”
Tony’s thoughts in response were heartbreaking. He scoffed, the thoughts nobody likes me and they like my brain, my money, my name, but not me incredibly loud to Charles
Charles hadn’t had a choice at that point. He’d dropped the shields around his emotions, letting all the emotions he felt for the boy before him pour out, all the care and concern, his amazement at Tony’s abilities and accomplishments, his desire to support Tony in anything and everything. All the love that was so strong it sometimes felt he was going to collapse under the weight of it.
Tony’s reaction was perhaps the most terrible thing of all. The thoughts that Charles was so different from most people in his life, the surprise that Charles loved him and not who or what he was. That he loved Tony, just Tony. Not “Anthony Stark” or “his greatest creation”.
Tony’s eyes filled with tears as he looked at his feet, the thought big boys don’t cry obvious in his mind, his terror that Charles would think he had made a mistake in loving him. His conviction that Charles had.
Charles felt his own eyes fill at those thoughts, so terrifyingly familiar to him, echoes of his own at Tony’s age when he was nothing more than a prop for his mother to complete her image in society, and he wheeled his chair closer to Tony, unable to allow it to continue for even a moment. He reached out and placed his hand on Tony’s shoulder, something in him easing when the boy didn’t flinch but instead looked at him in shock.
Professor Xavier’s never touched me before.
Charles let some of his regret and sadness through his shields, for all that he kept the anger locked down tight. That would certainly be changing moving forward.
“May I hug you, Tony?” the Professor asked.
Tony eyes wide, nodded.
It was all the prompting Charles needed. He reached down, wrapping both his arms around Tony’s waist before lifting him straight off the floor. He carefully placed the boy in his lap and wrapped his arms around him, pulling Tony flush against his chest.
“I’d hug you every day if I could,” Charles said softly. “Would that be alright with you?”
Tony just nodded, too emotional to speak, and Charles held him tightly, doing his best to pour his love into the boy in his lap.
Tony was a son to him in every way that mattered. So to sit here, now, and do nothing while his son was suffering was anathema to Charles.
Familiar thoughts approached, and Charles let himself relax slightly at their soothing presence. A hand came to rest on his shoulder, and without turning away from the window he reached up and put his hand over Erik’s.
“Shatz,” Erik said, leaning down to press a kiss to Charles’ temple.
Charles just hummed in acknowledgment, too wrapped in his own thoughts to do anything else.
“He’s fine, liebling,” Erik said, squeezing Charles’ shoulder in reassurance. “He’s been waiting for this day for a long, long time.”
“Too long,” Charles retorted, irritation flaring. “Where has that man been all this time?”
Erik sighed, and Charles felt it through their bond when he reached out with his powers to pull a chair from across the room before he settled next to Charles. He took his hand off of Charles’ shoulder, twisting it so that he held Charles’ hand in his own in the space between them.
“Charles…” Erik said, and Charles could feel the undercurrents of his emotions, fond exasperation, his own frustration at Tony’s Sentinel, his absolute certainty that the sentinel would never have kept Tony waiting if he’d had any choice in the matter at all.
Charles huffed, but turned and let his head fall on his sentinel’s shoulder, taking comfort in his familiar presence. Erik was his rock, his shield against the whirling chaos in his mind. His proof that he was not alone, that he had never been alone. Despite everything, the hard years of struggle, the compromises they’d both had to fight for, they were still here. Together.
“It’s been a long road, my friend,” Erik said, and Charles could hear every one of those years in his voice, the weight of Erik’s own memories pressing against his mind. “A very long road.”
“Yes,” Charles said.
“Ororo has the school well in hand,” Erik said gently. “And now that Tony’s Sentinel has appeared, there’s someone to take over the North East.”
“We dealt with that ridiculous bill before it ever hit the floor,” Erik continued. “Don’t you think it’s time? Time for us to pass the mantle? To rest?”
Years ago, Charles had thought that he would have to drag Erik into retirement kicking and screaming. To his surprise, Erik had taken to the idea far more easily than Charles ever had. Erik had lived a life of war. He was ready to find some peace, now, after having fought so hard for it. It was Charles who had struggled to let go of his responsibilities. And he’d known that he could never leave. Not while Tony still needed him.
“Genosha is lovely,” Charles said, thinking of the island nation full of mutants. An entire nation, full of their people. A place that had fought long and hard for its freedom and independence. A fight Erik and Charles had been a part of. And there was still plenty of work to be done to keep them from becoming bored. They were not meant for idleness, he and Erik.
“There’s a property on the coast I’ve had my eye on for some time,” Erik said.
Charles closed his eyes and let himself bask in the bond between the two of them, letting the warms of Erik’s mind wrap around his own like a blanket.
“We’re not moving into the palace,” Charles chided.
Erik laughed, leaning down and pressing a kiss against Charles’ head, his lips warm against the skin of his scalp.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Erik said.
Charles pulled back and gave his husband and Sentinel a truly unimpressed look. Erik had dreamed of it. They both had. And they had come close. Very close. In fact, it had only been their responsibilities in New York that had managed to stop them.
But Genosha had always called to both of them, a territory that seemed made for them. Now that Erik could hand off his current territory, it was time to claim it at last.
“I want to meet him,” Charles said. “Make sure he’s good enough for our boy.”
“I want to meet him,” Charles said. “Make sure he’s good enough for our boy. Find out what on earth he was thinking, making Tony wait so long.”
“Of course,” Erik said. “As Alphas, it is our right.”
Chase him off if he isn’t good enough Erik’s thoughts bubbled below the surface. Charles sent his firm agreement, and beside him Erik snorted, amusement dark and rich.
They would need to help with the transition, of course. And they would check in often. But with this last responsibility gone, with Tony finally settled in his bond with a sentinel to look after him…they could finally rest.
Leaning against his Sentinel, looking out at what they had built together, feeling all those happy mutant minds laughing and learning and utterly content, Charles let himself fill with pride. They had worked hard. They had done well. Now it could be time just for them. For Erik and Charles, Sentinel and Guide, instead of all mutantkind.
Feeling as if a heavy weight had been lifted off his shoulders, Charles smiled.